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Zimbabwe parliament to be sworn in next week

Yahoo News

By Cris Chinaka 1 hour, 6 minutes ago

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's government plans to convene parliament next
week despite deadlock in talks to end a post-election political crisis that
has worsened the country's economic decline and seen inflation hit 11
million percent.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change said it was not opposed
to the opening of parliament but would reject any moves by President Robert
Mugabe to appoint a cabinet before a power-sharing agreement is sealed.

"If he (Mugabe) goes further and appoints a cabinet, it will be against the
letter and spirit of the MOU," party spokesman Tapiwa Mashakada said, in
reference to a Memorandum of Understanding between the ruling ZANU-PF and
the opposition on the negotiations.

In March elections, ZANU-PF lost its parliamentary majority for the first
time since independence from Britain in 1980, but Morgan Tsvanigrai's MDC
did not win an overall majority either. The balance of power rests in the
hands of a breakaway opposition faction led by Arthur Mutambara.

He has moved closer to Mugabe in recent weeks and any deal between them
could weaken Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's most powerful opposition leader, and add
to political uncertainty.

Negotiations began last month after Mugabe was re-elected unopposed in June,
in a vote condemned around the world and boycotted by Tsvangirai because of
attacks on his supporters.


The political deadlock over who will control the government has hindered
efforts to ease Zimbabwe's economic crisis.

Inflation rocketed to a staggering 11 million percent in June, the highest
in the world, from 2.2 million in May, and chronic food, fuel and foreign
currency shortages are worsening.

But many economists believe the figure is higher still and it has little
meaning for Zimbabweans, who find that a loaf of bread costs almost five
times more than it did a month ago -- if it can be found for sale.

"Do they say in that figure that we can no longer afford bus fares, rent,
hospital fees, and that we can't buy groceries? If the numbers don't say
that, then it is meaningless," said Sarah Machakairie, 48, a Harare
vegetable seller.

Zimbabweans hope for a new leadership that can find a quick way to tame
inflation and ease hardships that have driven millions out of the country
and strained regional economies.

"When you're going into a hyper-inflation cycle, until such a time as the
authorities take appropriate steps to counter it, it seems to continue to
spiral out of control," said Leon Myburgh, analyst at Citigroup in

Tsvangirai's MDC challenges Mugabe's legitimacy, but under Zimbabwean law,
parliament is convened and officially opened by the state president.

Still, the MDC's decision not to oppose the opening of parliament may have
been a concession, given the fierce power struggle gripping Zimbabwe.

But the issue of who will run the government is a major obstacle to an
agreement, and there are no guarantees that a deal will bring reconciliation
and long-term stability.

MDC officials fear Mugabe is maneuvering to give Tsvangirai only a few

Southern African heads of state at a regional summit in Johannesburg over
the weekend failed to push ZANU-PF and the MDC into an agreement.

(Writing by Michael Georgy; editing by Robert Hart)

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Zimbabwe's MDC will not accept cabinet before deal


Tue 19 Aug 2008, 15:27 GMT

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition MDC said on Tuesday it will
not accept President Robert Mugabe appointing a cabinet before a
power-sharing deal is reached.

"If he (Mugabe) goes further and appoints a cabinet, it will be against the
letter and spirit of the MOU," party spokesman Tapiwa Mashakad said, in
reference to a Memorandum of Understanding between Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the
opposition on the negotiations.

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Scramble for Political Power

HARARE, August 19 2008 - There is now a serious and sometimes nasty
jockeying in Harare for political power by parties as the Parliament of
Zimbabwe opening draws close, Radio VOP can reveal.

Zanu PF and the major opposition MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai are
allegedly fighting for the Speaker top job in the August House of Assembly.

There is also debate on whether the Speaker should be appointed or
elected by a secret ballot. The MDC says there is no need for a secret
ballot while Zanu PF insists this is important for democracy. The MDC has
100 seats in Parliament while Zanu PF has 99. Any one of them needs 106
votes to attain a two thirds


MDC-T wants to control the Lower House while Zanu PF wants to control
the Senate which is top heavy. The MDC says the Speaker must come from the
opposition since they won the election on March 29.

Zanu PF wants a secret ballot to elect the Speaker of the House of
Assembly and the Senate. The party also wants its candidate to lead the

1"Mr" by Mhlanga Jabulan at Tuesday, 19 August 2008 12:50
This is tantamount to unfairness the people of Zimbabwe have spoken on
March 29 and the same need a total change now. The speaker should be
nominated by MDC which has the majority in Parliament. Voice of the people
should be respected people have spoken in March through the ballot box. ZANU
PF has total failed now its time for change as shown by people of Zimbabwe
on March 29. ZANU PF should learn to respect the will of the people through
the ballot casted on March 29.

2"mrs" by melinda at Tuesday, 19 August 2008 15:16
Mugabe should go he has made Zimbabweans suffer. Grace tel baba
vaMugabe to resign with a bit of dignity for the sake of yr children if not
for fellow zimbos

3"ms" by sheila at Tuesday, 19 August 2008 15:24
Ko sei vanhu vachembera vachiramba kubva pazvinzvimbo.(why do these
old people refuse to surrender powers. What are they afraid of). we are
suffering.Cuba has a new president, pakistan president has resigned and
almost the whole of Africa has had at least two presidents, what is wrong
with you Robert Mugabe. Do you want us to rejoice on your funeral because we
are fed up with you. The ballot has failed to oust you and even the talks.
As you say, God put you on that throne so will he remove you. Do you think
of yr immediate family's predicament when you eventually be taken by the

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Mugabe's Party Defies July 21 Agreement


By Peta Thornycroft
19 August 2008

Nearly four weeks after President Robert Mugabe signed a memorandum of
understanding on negotiations with his political opponents, his ZANU-PF
party is accused of violating the crucial clause requiring that he lift the
ban on non-governmental organizations delivering food aid. Peta Thornycroft
reports that, in additon, ZANU-PF leaders continue to violate other crucial
clauses of the agreement.

In June, Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche banned humanitarian agencies from
distributing food because, he said, they had campaigned on behalf of the MDC
ahead of the March 29 elections. The food agencies denied Goche's

The move was widely seen as a retaliation against voters who supported
Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the March
election in which he scored more votes than Mr Mugabe and his party won a
narrow majority in parliament.

This week the World Food Program, which is the largest donor funded food
importer, told VOA the organization has had no word, or even an indication,
that the ban will be lifted.

The WFP works primarily through local non-governmental organizations as
distribution partners. These partners were banned from doing field work,
except for school feeding programs and those to assist people with HIV/AIDS.

The WFP says 250,000 people are currently being assisted, but even as early
as last month that figure should have been 300,000. The local partner
organizations say many children are already showing signs of malnutrition as
a consequence of failed summer crops and that feeding programs should be
escalated as a matter of urgency.

The WFP says about five million people, or nearly half the population of
Zimbabwe, will need food aid before the next summer harvest in April, 2009.

One humanitarian organization, which asked not to be identified, said some
top ZANU-PF politicians have asked the agency to defy the government ban
because traditional leaders complain that many people have no food.

A worker in the Welfare Ministry in Harare said Monday there were no
indications when or if the ban would be lifted.

Renson Gasela, a former MDC legislator and a respected commentator on
agriculture, on Monday described the ongoing ban as "appalling." He said it
was cruel and disgraceful that any government in the world should prevent
food from getting to people in need.

He said the continuing food distribution ban violated the July 21 memorandum
of understanding.

Political violence which soared after the MDC's election victory is
continuing, although at a much reduced level.

But the party issues regular reports providing details of supporters thrown
out of their homes, beaten up, kidnapped or forced to hand over possessions
to ZANU-PF militia.

Several MDC supporters have died since the memorandum of understanding was
signed on July 21. Some are still in the hospital recovering from the
attacks on them. The agreement was meant to end all political violence.

And, in the last week, there has been a sudden upsurge of white commercial
farmers being illegally evicted from their homes and land. Harare lawyer
David Drury said Monday he was busy representing affected farmers. He said
there was what he described as a 'last mad rush' by ZANU-PF heavyweights to
seize many of the few hundred remaining white owned farms in anticipation of
some kind of political settlement.

The Memorandum of Understanding also committed the signatories, to respect
property rights.

Negotiations for a power sharing agreement between the MDC and ZANU-PF
deadlocked in South Africa on Sunday although leaders on both sides say they
are committed to keep talking.

Meanwhile, many Zimbabweans can not afford to buy the little food available
as prices double every few days. The Central Statistical Office announced
late Monday that inflation had now jumped to more than 11 million percent, a
world record.

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Mwanawasa's death a blow to the region

Photo: Nebert Mulenga/IRIN
Levy Mwanawasa (right) with opposition leader Michael Sata
LUSAKA, 19 August 2008 (IRIN) - Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa's death has dealt a double blow to Southern Africa, not only generating fears of possible political instability in Zambia but also concern about the impact on the process of finding a solution in Zimbabwe, according to analysts.

Under the current constitution, which is under review, Zambians will have to head for fresh polls within 90 days.

Mwanawasa, as chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), was one of the first regional leaders, together with the past and current presidents of Botswana, to openly criticise Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's policies.

Mwanawasa died in a French hospital on 19 August, nearly two months after he was admitted as a result of suffering a stroke, said Zambian vice-president Rupiah Banda. He was 59.

Describing Mwanawasa as a "good friend and comrade", the leader of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai, said he had "left us at this most trying time".

The late Zambian president had been "a champion of the democratisation of the SADC region in particular, and the African continent in general; as such, his passing-on is a sad day to the Zimbabwean people, who at this stage are yearning for a new beginning which can unquestionably be characterised as democratic and a reflection of the will of the people," said Tsvangirai.

''The region has truly lost one of the most influential figures [contributing] to resolving the Zimbabwe situation. It now leaves Botswana alone''
Mwanawasa was an outspoken critic of Mugabe, and once likened Zimbabwe to a "sinking titanic". During the violent clashes before Zimbabwe's general election in early 2008, he described what was happening in the neighbouring country as "embarrassing to the region and the continent".

His last statement as chair of SADC, read on his behalf on 16 August, was yet another strongly worded criticism of the ruling Zimbabwean regime, in which he labelled the events leading up to and including the run-off election on 27 June to elect the Zimbabwean president as "a serious blot on the culture of democracy in our sub-region."

Lee Habasonda, executive director of the Southern African Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes [SACCORD], a regional good governance and human rights watchdog, said: "The region has truly lost one of the most influential figures [contributing] to resolving the Zimbabwe situation. It now leaves Botswana alone."

Botswana has said it regards Mugabe as an illegitimate leader because he lost the legitimate election on 29 March, and won the run-off 27 June as sole the candidate after MDC leader Tsvangirai withdrew because his supporters were being violently attacked.

"His [Mwanawasa's] leadership was slowly beginning to take away that conservative and freedom fighter mentality which has been undermining governance and democracy in the region. The onus now is on the [other] regional leaders to consolidate on that," Habasonda commented.

Ian Khama, who assumed the Botswana presidency on 1 April, chose to boycott the last SADC summit in Johannesburg on 16 and 17 June because Mugabe had been invited. The SADC is trying to negotiate a power-sharing deal between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

Meanwhile at home

Analysts said Mwanawasa's death could stir political bickering in his ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy [MMD], and the man to gain would be opposition leader Michael Sata.

"There will be a lot of infighting for the presidency as the MMD has no party vice-president, who should have been an automatic replacement for president Mwanawasa. They may have to go to the [national] convention but time is not allowing them. I think we shall soon see the formation of a break-away party from MMD, before the elections," said a political analyst who declined to be identified.

Mwanawasa became Zambia's president in 2001, and won a hotly contested 2006 ballot for his second and final five-year term, which would have ended in 2011.

His period in office was characterised by an anti-corruption drive that saw his predecessor, Frederick Chiluba, together with a number of high-ranking officials in the former government, in and out of court on corruption charges.

The anti-corruption drive endeared Mwanawasa to Western donors, and led to the 2005 cancellation of the country's external debt of US$7.2 billion, putting Zambia back on a path to economic recovery.

"President Mwanawasa's death leaves a big hole in terms of the fight against corruption and seriousness in managing public affairs," Habasonda said. "He showed seriousness, and his legacy will be remembered as one of the 'Rule of Law'."


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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Zimbabwe inflation rockets to 11.2 million per cent

The Telegraph
Zimbabwe's official inflation rate has soared to more than 11.2 million per cent.

The Central Statistical Office in Harare said that inflation in the year to June stood at 11,268,758.9 per cent, a rise of 9,035,045.5 per cent from May.

The monthly inflation rate stood at 839.3 per cent, it added.

In an anodyne report on the miraculously precise data the state-owned Herald newspaper, a government mouthpiece, said: "Analysts said rising costs are forcing retailers to increase prices more than once a day in some instances."

But John Robertson, an independent economist based in Harare, put the real figure at "more than 30 million per cent over the year".

He pointed out that over the period in question the US dollar went up by 23 million per cent over Zimbabwe's currency on the black market.

"The 11 million per cent they are suggesting seems rather low," he said, adding that he expects the figure to rise dramatically into the hundreds of millions per cent.

Over the last three and a half months the Zimbabwe dollar has lost a compound 13 per cent a day, he said. "In Britain you are worried about 4.4 per cent a year. Those of us living here are struggling even to find food for the next meal and the bus fare to go to work the next morning."

Critics say President Robert Mugabe's mismanagement is entirely to blame for the destruction of a once-thriving economy, and that the ruling party's own demand for hard currency is a major factor in the collapsing black-market rate, which stood at Z$120 to the greenback – down 20 per cent on the previous day.

At the end of last month Robert Mugabe's government knocked 10 zeros off the value of the Zimbabwe dollar, issued a new currency, and reintroduced coins, although the latter are already becoming impractical and will be useless within weeks.

The Herald itself costs 100 new Zimbabwe dollars, or 1 trillion old ones.

Supermarket prices include: 500g of infant cereal, Z$1060, 1 kg of salt, Z$650, 1 kg mince $370, 2lt cooking oil Z$2990.

A teacher's monthly salary is Z$800.

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ZANU-PF's economic legacy

The economic calamity in Zimbabwe is hard to phantom, too big to imagine. 95% unemployment, 45 000 000 & inflation, it's total ruination.

Harare --The magnitude of the economic calamity in Zimbabwe is hard to phantom. One way one can begin to understand the level of economic ruin that ZANU-PF has brought on the country is by looking at the annual rate of inflation. 

Today, the Herald claimed the annual inflation rate was not at 11.2 million percent. 

"Zimbabwe's annual rate of inflation surged in June to 11.2 million percent," The newspaper said, adding: "It gained 9,035,045.5 percentage points from the May rate of 2,233,713.4 percent."

However everyone agrees that the government estimate is a fraction of the real figure.

"The actual figure could be high as 40 million percent in June," said independent economist John Robertson.

"The actual figure for July could be as high as 300 million percent, while for August it could be 600 million percent," he added.

The currency, once on a par with the British pound, is in freefall; unemployment is pegged at a staggering 95 percent; food and essential goods are in short supply and the vast majority of people go hungry every day.

In the face of such adversity, many have resorted to ingenious ways to ensure their next meal.

Mike Bvunzawabaya, a security guard at a large Harare supermarket, is able to buy a loaf of bread at the official price of eight Zimbabwe dollars, which he then resells for 120 dollars.

"At least I am not stealing from anyone," he says, justifying the thriving sideline trade of 15 to 20 loaves he resells every day.

In one Zimbabwean village, people have turned to barter, exchanging a bar of soap for maize, and are cutting down on meals.

Villagers who once stashed savings from grain sales are now refusing to accept cash as they cannot afford bus fares to travel to shops and fear the money will be worthless before they arrive.

In cities, some doctors ask to be paid in cash rather than charging medical insurance schemes, saying the currency would be further devalued by the time they are reimbursed. Some schools are charging school fees in fuel coupons.

In Harare, a 29-year-old Air Zimbabwe worker did not go to work last week as she could not afford the transport costs to get there.

"It costs me more to go to work," she said, adding that the number of travellers using the airline had dropped.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that 83 percent of Zimbabweans are living on less than two US dollars a day and that 45 percent of the total population is malnourished.

Recently, the state-controlled Herald newspaper carried a story about a man who invested his retirement package in a fixed account 10 years ago. When he went to withdraw his savings, he was told the money was worth one cent after the country's central bank knocked ten zeros off the Zimbabwe dollar.

Earlier this month, Zimbabwe's central bank chief urged a six-month price and salary freeze in a bid to rein in runaway inflation, with the country in the midst of an economic meltdown.

"Zimbabweans must realise that the country is in a practically binding state of socio-economic emergency," The Herald quoted Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono as saying then.

"As such, there is need for a universal moratorium on all incomes and prices for a minimum period of six months," said Gono.

The economic ruination by ZANU-PF and Mugabe is a text example of a total failure in a government in the history of the world. --Tribune Business News/Services

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Ordinary Zimbabweans juggle world's highest inflation and food shortages


HARARE, Aug 19 (AFP)

Mike Bvunzawabaya is one of Harare's luckier residents. As a security guard
at a large supermarket, he is able to buy a loaf bread at the official price
of eight Zimbabwe dollars, which he then resells for 120 dollars.

"At least I am not stealing from anyone," is how he justifies the thriving
sideline trade of 15 to 20 loaves which his brother runs while he is at

"We are now all employed," says Bvunzawabaya. "If we do not do that, how do
you honestly think we would survive?"

While Zimbabwe's political rivals thrash out nuances trying to reach a
power-sharing deal, ordinary citizens like Bvunzawabaya are juggling the
dual problem of the world's highest inflation rate of 11.2 million percent
and major food shortages.

The country's official inflation rate soared nine million percentage points
in June amid an intensified political crisis after President Robert Mugabe
held a widely condemned one-man, presidential run-off vote.

In one rural village, people have turned to barter trade, exchanging a bar
of soap for 50 kilogrammes of maize, and are cutting down on meals.

Villagers who once stashed savings from grain sales are now refusing to
accept cash as they cannot afford bus fares to travel to shops and fear the
money will be worthless before they arrive.

In cities, some doctors ask to be paid in cash rather than charging medical
insurance schemes, saying that the money will have lost value by the time
they are reimbursed. Some schools are charging school fees in fuel coupons.

In Harare, a 29-year-old Air Zimbabwe worker did not go to work last week as
she could not afford the transport costs to get there.

"It costs me more to go to work," she said, adding that the number of
travellers using the airline has dropped.

The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that 83 percent of Zimbabweans are
living on less than two US dollars a day and that 45 percent of the total
population is malnourished.

Once known as the region's breadbasket, Zimbabwe's overall maize production
for 2008 is estimated to drop 28 percent lower than last year's already low

The country's inflation sky-rocketed from an all-time high of 100,000
percent in February to a new record high of 11.2 million percent, which some
analysts say could reach as high as 600 million percent.

Recently, the state-controlled Herald newspaper carried a story about a man
who invested his retirement package in a fixed account with a building
society 10 years ago.

But when he went to withdraw his savings, he was told the money was worth
one cent after the country's central bank knocked ten zeros off the Zimbabwe

"Pension funds are in serious trouble," commented Tony Hawkins, an economist
from the University of Zimbabwe. "Savings become worthless within days and
this happens in any situation where you have hyper-inflation."

According to central bank figures, remittances from Zimbabweans living
abroad shot up by 226 percent to 45-million US dollars in the first six
months of this, compared with the same period last year.

Long queues to pick up hard currencies, such as the South African rand and
the US dollar, at Zimbabwe's money transfer agencies mean that the cash
often runs out.

Hard currency is the preferred payment at some fuel stations, hair salons
and for rental accommodation, with requests even heard for church donations
not to be made in local money.

An estimated three million Zimbabweans are said to be living outside the
country, many of them in neighbouring South Africa whose President Thabo
Mbeki is mediating talks between Mugabe and two opposition factions.

The country's economic meltdown has continued in the worsening political
crisis which intensified after the main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
pulled out of the June run-off election due to fears of violence.

A regional summit of Southern African leaders in Johannesburg at the weekend
failed to bring the sides to a settlement, which is needed to tackle the
Zimbabwe's urgent social and economic problems.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the WFP estimate that four
million people -- more than a third of 11.8 million Zimbabweans -- will need
food assistance by next year.

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Zimbabwe exiles on warpath against Mugabe

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 - Web posted at 7:18:04 AM GMT

THE Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF) has lodged an urgent application with
the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal in Windhoek to
declare President Robert Mugabe's government illegal and force regional
leaders to stop inviting him to their meetings.

Norman Tjombe of the Legal Assistance Centre confirmed that the papers
were served on several individuals as well as the tribunal's head office in
Windhoek and that they were awaiting a date for the hearing.

"We have made a host of demands including that the elections be
declared unconstitutional," Tjombe said.

Mugabe attended a weekend SADC summit in South Africa despite the
application and a boycott of the meeting by Botswana President Seretse Khama
Ian Khama.

Khama refused to attend the summit because his government does not
recognise Mugabe's re-election.

Mugabe ran alone in the June 27 presidential run-off election after
the main contender and opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, pulled out,
citing state-sponsored violence against his supporters.

The poll was condemned around the world and criticised by regional
election observers.

The 14-member SADC urged Zimbabwe's leaders to forge an inclusive

ZEF, an SA-based non-governmental organisation assisting those who
have fled from the political violence in Zimbabwe, is being assisted by the
Legal Assistance Centre and the Southern African Litigation Centre.

Their application seeks to hold SADC to its own founding principles,
arguing that since Mugabe's election as president of Zimbabwe was recognised
by SADC itself as not free and fair and not reflective o[ends here...]

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Farmers Can't Afford to Leave Markets -- Literally

By Tonderai Kwidini

HARARE, Aug 19 (IPS) - It is a wintry Tuesday evening at one of the tobacco
auction floors in the Zimbabwean capital Harare. A group of small scale
tobacco farmers are preparing food for the night.

This is the second week for some of them in Harare after their arrival at
the tobacco auction floors to sell their produce. They have just been paid
20 Zimbabwean dollars (re-valued), or one U.S. dollar on the parallel
market, as initial cash payment for their produce.

But this amount is hardly enough to cover a day's costs for a single person
in the hyper-inflationary Zimbabwean environment, where a loaf of bread is
priced above one U.S. dollar.

The rest of the payment is made in cheques. But accessing the cash is a tall
order for the farmers as a result of constant cash shortages. Several banks
have closed their rural branches where most of the farmers reside. As a
result farmers are now forced to travel to the city to get money.

After selling their produce at the markets, farmers are left stranded as
they still do not have enough cash to pay for transport home. Farmers are
forced to seek sanctuary at markets and auction floors in the capital.

The deaths of 14 farmers in a truck accident in June this year has led to a
chorus of farmers calling for the establishment of centralised markets. The
farmers died when the lorry they were travelling in plunged into a river
while on its way to Harare's Mbare Musika market.

In the past there were several markets around the country where buyers
interested in different types of produce would converge. But all this
changed as a result of the chaotic farm invasions of 2000, which left many
farming communities resembling ghost towns.

Most of the farming communities, such as Mhangura, Mvurwi, Chipinge, Chegutu
and Karoi, were a hive of activity but all this is now a thing of the past.
Some of the former trading centres are now being used as storage facilities
by non-governmental organisations.

''Farming now means nothing to us because, even if we work hard in the
fields, it is not helping. When you sell your produce, the money you get is
useless and the cheques take time to clear. This is our second week here. We
are waiting for the money from the bank,'' Cecilia Madzanise, a small-scale
tobacco farmer from Concession, a farming community located about 80 km from
Harare, told IPS.

It costs 50 Zimbabwean dollars (re-valued), or 2,50 U.S. dollars, for her to
travel back to her rural home. But when she sold her produce she was given
an initial payment of 20 Zimbabwean dollars. She now lives on credit because
she has no money to return to Concession.

''It is better for them to bring the markets to us so that we don't waste
money travelling to Harare where we end up stranded like this. The money we
are being paid is very little and accessing it is difficult too,'' Madzanise

She is just one of the many farmers calling for the establishment of
centralised markets in rural areas to reduce the distance that farmers have
to travel to reach markets in the cities.

The farmers are currently paying high transport costs to take their produce
to the markets. Efforts to establish transport clubs where a group of
farmers from a particular area hire a truck together have not worked.
Transporters, seeking to maximise profits, are charging them individually.

Small-scale fresh farm producers have been the hardest hit. They have to
travel to the cities at least once a week with their produce. Previously
they would meet the trucks with their produce in the towns but now it is a
common sight to see them perched on top of vegetables or tomato crates on
trucks in a bid to try and cut costs, risking their lives in the process.

''We are wasting a lot of money on food and transport costs travelling to
Harare. Had the market been in the rural areas or if the buyers came to buy
in the rural areas, it would be better. Now we can't pay school fees or buy
food for our families because all the money goes towards travel costs,''
Alec Ngwende, a small-scale vegetable farmer from Chihota communal lands,
east of Harare, told IPS.

Andrew Ferreira, the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association president, supports the
establishment of regional markets: ''From the growers' perspective, anything
that eases the transport problems is a plus. But we have to be careful with
how we do it because it also affects the prices that will be paid for the

Some of the traditional buyers from Europe who procured goods directly from
small-scale farmers have since stopped, in protest against the country's
human rights record. Europe's largest supermarket chain, Tesco, announced
its withdrawal in June this year.

An official with Zimbabwe's Fresh Produce Producers Association said Tesco
was their biggest customer in Europe, buying 50 percent of the association's

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20 million percent in the flesh

I’ve just come from the bank, where the whole queue was talking about prices. The cash withdrawal limit in Zimbabwe has been raised to $300 (which would have been $3 trillion before 10 zeros were lopped off last month). This is, at least, a marked improvement over $10 ($100 billion), which it was for several weeks before that.

But ever since Gono chopped them off, the the zeros have been racing to catch up. As my colleague put it, they’re Olympic runners and they’re coming back fast and furious. Yesterday’s commuter omnibus fare into town was $40 ($400 billion) in the morning – by the time of the evening commute home again it had gone up to $60 ($600 billion).

It’s the same in the shops – it’s as if, now that prices are in hundreds, instead of trillions, there is license to double and treble prices daily – because things suddenly sound so cheap! Zimbabwe’s inflation is now 11.2 million percent per year (officially - independent bankers peg it at closer to 20 million). Imagine how many times in a year you’d have to double the prices of something to have it end up two hundred thousand times as expensive at the end of the year as it was to begin with.

My bank queue wasn’t the only group noticing this – a comment we received from a subscriber today notes similarly:

The recent pricing of commodities and services as well has sent the majority running short of superlatives to describe the situation. It can be argued following the mid-year monetary policy announcement by the Reserve Bank Governor, prices started to increase astronomically. The monetary statement among other things increased maximum withdrawal to $3 trillion from $100 billion, slashed ten zeros which he argued for convenience sake and also re-introduced old coins as part of empowerment. This acted as a catalyst for price hikes by unscrupulous business people who are taking advantage of the situation. Surprisingly, the NIPC (National Incomes and Pricing Commission) is watching as the madness continues. Its credibility as a commission is now questionable.

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Manicaland province under siege by war veterans and militia

By Alex Bell
19 August 2008

The violence and intimidation against MDC activists has continued in
Zimbabwe as efforts to reach a power sharing arrangement between the
opposition and ZANU PF have thus far failed.

MDC officials in the Manicaland province have reported another abduction,
following the kidnapping and assault of the wife of an opposition activist
in Buhera South. Juliet Dakacha, wife of activist Killian Chirau, was
abducted on Thursday and then released the same day after she was severely
beaten and tortured. Chirau's younger brother, Moses has since been
kidnapped by suspected war veterans and ZANU PF militia over the weekend and
is believed to be held at the notorious Mutiusinazita torture base.

The MDC spokesman for the Manicaland constituency, Pishai Muchauraya, told
Newsreel on Tuesday that Juliet Dakacha has been unable to receive medical
care or be transported to hospital because most of the party's vehicles are
in the hands of police who confiscated them during the turbulent period
following the March 29 elections. Muchauraya added that hundreds of MDC
supporters around the country have yet to receive medical care for
election-period injuries, due to lack of transport and other problems.

Muchauraya confirmed that war veterans are still carrying out a violent
campaign against MDC supporters in the Manicaland province. He said Buhera
South is the worst affected area as groups under the leadership of the
notorious Joseph Chinotimba are "terrorising the area" and "brutalising our
supporters". MDC MP-elect for Buhera South, Naison Nemadziva, remains in
hiding in Mutare, after serious threats against his life by ZANU PF militia.
Muchauraya said the thugs have threatened to kill Nemadziva, saying his seat
belongs to ZANU PF.

Meanwhile, as the war veterans and militia continue their reign of terror,
Muchauraya said people are beginning to starve to death. He said in Makoni
South alone, five people have already died of starvation, and added that in
the next two weeks, "without humanitarian aid, you can count on thousands
more dying". He added that ZANU PF "manipulation" is forcing people to give
up their livestock for meagre amounts of maize meal, and the militia are
controlling people's lives by stealing their limited food supplies. He said
that the severe lack of food in the province is "not sparing anyone" and
even those with money are starving.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Elephants slaughtered at alarming rate in Zimbabwe

By Violet Gonda
18 August 2008

Zimbabwe's once thriving wildlife and tourism industry is under serious
threat as authorities continue to kill elephants and other animals at an
alarming rate.

Johnny Rodrigues, the chairman for the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force,
said the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management has embarked
on what they are calling an "Elephant Population Management Programme". But
the authorities are deliberately targeting elephants with the largest tusks,
which has nothing to do with population control.

Conservationists believe the Parks authorities are killing the animals for
money, under the guise of animal control. Hunting tenders are not going to
locals and as a result of the lawlessness caused by the economic and
political crisis, foreign hunters are using the crisis to abuse the system.
Rodrigues said there is a huge market for ivory and tusks can go for as much
as £65 000 in some cases.

He said the ivory and skins are not being sent to the Parks central stores
and nothing is being recorded. Unscrupulous hunters from South Africa are
working with some of the Chinese nationals in the country, who are in
cahoots with corrupt government officials.

This uncontrolled slaughter is destroying the gene pool of Zimbabwe's
wildlife and threatens the future of the tourist industry which, until
recently, was a very large foreign currency earner for the country.

Conservationists are also very concerned about the manner in which the
animals are being killed. With the lack of expertise and control many
animals are not cleanly killed and are just wounded. These animals then
become very dangerous and can end up attacking people.

The so called 'culling' that is illegally taking place is targeting whole
family groups. The adults are slaughtered for their ivory and the
traumatised young are sold on to unscrupulous users.

This is happening in contravention of international trade regulations that
Zimbabwe has signed up to and once you decimate herds and kill the biggest
and the best, it takes generations to repair the damage.

In Hwange National Park alone authorities have killed over 1800 elephants
and plan to slaughter at least another 1000. It seems that Hwange is often
used as a killing ground, because in the early 1990's the army were given
free reign and all the white rhino in the area were killed.

Parks say there are over 100 000 elephants in Zimbabwe, but conservationists
have long believed that these figures are artificially inflated to try to
justify Zimbabwe's regular requests to CITES for permission to sell its
ivory. The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force estimates there are actually
less than 50 000 elephants.

Once again Zimbabwe's crisis targets the most innocent - in this case, our

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Nine WOZA members released

Nine WOZA members released; two face charges of criminal nuisance

News update
18th August 2008

Nine WOZA members released; two face charges of criminal nuisance

ON Saturday 16th, police officers released the nine WOZA members who had
been in detention since Wednesday night. Two members, Samukeliso Sibanda and
Jema Gama, were asked to report to the police station this morning (Monday).

Upon arrival, the two were advised that they were to be charged with being a
'public nuisance' under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. They
were then taken to the Magistrates Court where they appeared before
Magistrate Charity Maphosa. The defence lawyer from Zimbabwe Lawyers for
Human Rights advised that they plead guilty, which they did. The magistrate
will deliver a ruling at 11:15 on Tuesday 19 August 2008. The charge
normally carries a fine.

Whilst the two women appear in court on the 19th, WOZA will launch a report
on the trauma experiences of its members in Johannesburg, South Africa,
entitled 'Counting the Cost of Courage: Trauma Experiences of Women Human
Rights Defenders in Zimbabwe'.


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S.African firms set to cash in on post-Mugabe deals


Tue 19 Aug 2008, 9:40 GMT

By Rebecca Harrison

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African companies -- used to working in risky
African markets -- are poised to benefit from lucrative investment
opportunities if a deal to end Zimbabwe's post-election crisis goes through.

With inflation at 11 million percent, the economy in ruins, massive brain
drain and property rights subject to political whim, investing in Zimbabwe
is not for the risk averse.

But the southern African country is also home to the world's second biggest
platinum reserves, 13 million people hungry for long-denied goods and
services and a neglected infrastructure the international community may pay
to rebuild. And while millions of its highly skilled workers have fled, many
may be tempted back by the stability that a deal wresting at least some
power from President Robert Mugabe promises.

South African companies, many of which have already proved they can make
money in risky and conflict-scarred countries such as the Democratic
Republic of Congo and Nigeria, are already jockeying for a slice of the
post-Mugabe pie.

"The only thing Zimbabwe has been exporting is misery," said Roelof Horne,
who manages about $1 billion in pan-African funds for Investec Asset
Management. "A booming, growing Zimbabwe run by a government committed to
its people's well-being can only be a net net positive for the region."

Western countries blame Mugabe for wrecking Zimbabwe's economy and accuse
him of rigging elections, charges he denies.

And even if the ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition Movement for
Democractic Change (MDC) reach a deal, Mugabe may retain enough influence to
stall reform.


Control Risks analyst Anne Fruehauf said post-crisis investment should
depend on a security and monetary policy overhaul and came with a "clear
health warning".

A deal acceptable to international donors could usher in some $1.5 billion
in aid and ease political risk across the region, boosting the rand and
prompting a re-rating of South African equities, particularly those with
Zimbabwe exposure.

"We'll see an immediate boost for local stocks," said one investment banker.
"Then there's specific companies that will benefit from an on-the-ground
investment perspective."

South African firms, many with small units in Zimbabwe already, have capital
that companies in that country cannot raise, and boast a historic,
geographic and linguistic edge over other foreigners, having not had
political pressure to stay out.

"You have the length of service argument -- a large number of South African
firms are already there and know the market extremely well, which can have a
multiplier effect for business partners," said Fruehauf.

Platinum miners are the most obvious and immediate corporate beneficiaries
of a stable Zimbabwe despite government steps to nationalise foreign firms,
inadequate power capacity, the collapse of the local supply chain and a
skills shortage. Impala Platinum, the foreign mining firm with the biggest
investment in Zimbabwe, has vowed to pump in cash if the political and
economic situation improves.

Anglo Platinum also has operations in Zimbabwe and the Financial Times said
last week parent firm Anglo American had held secret talks with the MDC over
rejigging the mining concessions system should it gain power.

And a platinum rush would spawn construction contracts.

Construction and engineering firm Group Five's Chief Executive Mike Upton
told Reuters the firm was "ready to go" in Zimbabwe and could quickly revive
a dormant unit there.

Group Five and its rivals Murray & Roberts and Aveng would aim initially to
secure contracts with miners but broader infrastructure tenders could


The barriers to investment in Zimbabwe are huge: the banking system is in
disarray, power shortages are acute and hyper inflation would have to be

A World Bank report ranks Zimbabwe in 152nd place of 178 countries for ease
of doing business, and analysts urge caution until the terms of a deal and
Mugabe's role in it are clear.

"If there is a coalition controlled by Mugabe then it means donors are
financing his crazy economic policies," Moeletsi Mbeki of the South African
Institute of International Affairs, said. "There will be no economic

But while the economy could take years to stabilise, once it does,
Zimbabweans will want to go shopping.

Zimbabwe has one of the lowest levels of mobile phone use in Africa and a
new government could raise foreign exchange fast by selling new licences to
the likes of South Africa's MTN or Vodacom.

Standard Bank, the continent's No.1 banking group by assets, has virtually
written off profits from its Zimbabwe unit due to soaring inflation, but CEO
Jacko Maree told Reuters it was ready to inject capital once a political
solution is found.

South African retailers Shoprite, Pick 'n Pay and Woolworths all have
experience in Zimbabwe and could quickly open new stores.

"Will South African companies immediately open 20 new stores? No. But they
are definitely already at the drawing boards," said a senior banker at the
South African arm of a major international investment bank.

"If you get a rational approach to monetary policy that very quickly creates
a framework for investors."

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Impasse for Zimbabwe

Unless Mugabe and Mbeki accept that Tsvangirai is key to Zimbabwe's
international recovery, these talks will falter

Gareth Evans,
Tuesday August 19 2008 19:00 BST

Negotiations for the creation of a transitional government in Zimbabwe are
at a serious impasse. They were suspended last week, with chief mediator
Thabo Mbeki saying that while a break was needed to give opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai an opportunity to reflect on remaining sticking points,
most of the issues were resolved. But shows of optimism by the South African
president or anyone else are wholly premature. The most critical matter of
all - who will actually run Zimbabwe - is no closer to resolution.

If Tsvangirai is taking time to reflect, he is completely justified. Since
his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won the historic parliamentary
elections and he defeated Robert Mugabe in the first round of the
presidential poll on March 29, his popular mandate has been clear and
unsullied by the June 27 presidential runoff, which he was forced to quit in
the face of extreme violence against his supporters.

Tsvangirai has been entrusted by Zimbabwe's people to lead the country out
of its troubles, and he cannot hope to do that if he accepts anything less
than a transfer of the reins of power.

At the outset, an agreement seemed possible, making Tsvangirai head of
government with full executive powers and leaving Mugabe as ceremonial head
of state with a "father of the nation" role. Tsvangirai made significant
concessions: Mugabe would retain some powers such as the right to declare
war, would co-chair the cabinet, and could make some appointments of some
key government posts in consultation with him.

But Mugabe refuses to cede any serious executive power. Hardly surprisingly,
Tsvangirai has rejected outright his demand that he keep the power not only
to reshuffle the cabinet but also to fire the prime minister. Mugabe did
concede that the supervision of ministries could be shared, with Tsvangirai
overseeing those such as finance, foreign affairs, industry and commerce,
and local government. But all the security ministries - defence, home
affairs, and intelligence - would report to Mugabe directly. And Mugabe
would continue to chair the securocratic clique known as the joint operation
command (JOC), his primary instrument for retaining power, and responsible
for much of the recent ugly violence.

Though Mugabe wears no general's uniform, for all practical purposes his is
a military dictatorship, relying on the support of the military
establishment, and brute domestic force, to cling to power. Tsvangirai,
rightly, has refused to accept being rendered impotent and irrelevant on
internal security issues, arguing instead for the JOC to be reconstituted as
a jointly chaired national security council, professionalised and
disconnected from Zanu-PF and Mugabe himself.

Despite the evident reasonableness of Tsvangirai's position - too moderate
for some of his supporters' taste - he has been cast by Mbeki as the more
intransigent party, and borne nearly all the pressure imposed by a mediator
whose impartiality continues to be called into question. Meanwhile, there is
no sign that Mbeki's co-mediators - Jean Ping of the African Union, Jorge
Chikoty of the Southern African Development Community; and the UN's Haile
Menkerios - will be able to counterbalance his role with effective pressure
of their own on Mugabe.

The opposition leader has very good reason for holding absolutely firm in
the talks to acquire the powers that are rightly and democratically his, and
which he needs if he is to begin to be able to bring Zimbabwe back from its
unutterably miserable current economic and social dysfunction.

Tsvangirai's ace is that he holds the key to Zimbabwe's international
acceptance. There is ample potential support from the US and EU to rebuild
Zimbabwe's shattered economy and society, to tackle the public finance
system that has permitted the hyper-inflationary meltdown, and to implement
specific reforms, such as restructuring the justice sector, and
professionalising the security sector. The World Bank, the IMF and the
African Development Bank are all able and willing to play major roles in the
country's macro-economic stabilisation.

What global political and institutional leaders need to do is to make even
more loudly and publicly clear than they have already that any negotiated
agreement, in order to be credible, to get sanctions lifted, and above all
to open the door to critical new international assistance, must provide
Tsvangirai with essential executive powers, including control over the key
elements of internal security, and that support will only be delivered, and
sustained, if minimum benchmarks are observed. That basic sentiment is out
there, but it has to be more explicitly articulated.

Short of a deal that can really enable the MDC leader to move the country in
the direction the Zimbabwean people have entrusted him to take, the
international message must continue to be that the results of the June 27
presidential runoff are illegitimate, political violence is completely
unacceptable, and the solution to Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis
can only come through a properly negotiated process, producing a genuinely
workable government that reflects the current popular will.

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Tsvangirai to seek help from SADC leaders to avert food crisis

By Tichaona Sibanda
19 August 2008

MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai has emabarked on a regional tour to urge
SADC leaders to help end the misery in the country by asking them to apply
pressure on Robert Mugabe to allow food aid to flow into Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai accuses Mugabe of deliberately causing starvation, after his
party's decision to halt all aid operations in the run-up to his one man
presidential vote in June. The effect of the ban was to give the regime
almost complete control over the food supply. The United Nations estimates
that almost four million people are now cut off from emergency food aid.

For weeks, the MDC has raised fears of dire consequences for the already
fragile humanitarian situation, if the ban is not lifted. Food supplies only
flow with the consent of the men with the guns. The military, under Defence
Forces commander Constantine Chiwenga, direct the flow of any food to
solidify Zanu-PF's support in it's geographic stronghold, and have cut off
supply to all areas friendly to the MDC.
In the past Mugabe has always been able to rely on support from the
countryside, particularly Mashonaland. But in the March elections it was
clear that ZANU-PF had lost its electoral heartland and that mass opposition
was developing among the rural poor. The ban on food aid was Mugabe's
response to the collapse of his previous support base.

Mugabe and the corrupt elite that surround him are seeking to hold on to
power at whatever cost to the rural poor and urban working class. MDC
spokesman Nqobizitha Mlilo said the decision to ban the distribution of food
aid spelt disaster for the millions who are dependent on it, after the
collapse of the agricultural sector. He accused the regime of "callous
contempt" for the poorest and most vulnerable in the country.
ZANU PF expressed it's commitment to alleviate the humanitarian crisis with
the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, setting the agenda for the
power-sharing talks. But the regime has not moved an inch to rectify the

Mugabe, Tsvangirai and MDC faction leader Arthur Mutambara agreed to work
together when they signed the MOU, to ensure the lifting of the ban on all
field operations of humanitarian organizations.

Many observers feel that ZANU PF is trying to use the food situation as a
weapon, to force Tsvangirai to agree to a deal that leaves Mugabe with his
vast powers. But on Tuesday, an aide to Tsvangirai insisted the MDC will not
relent in it's demands that it should be in charge of government.

Tsvangirai began his diplomatic offensive on the sidelines of the SADC
summit in Johannesburg over the weekend and will continue to appraise the
regional leaders on the humanitarian crisis in the coming ten days.

'He'll continue to engage the region on our power-sharing proposal on the
table and also appraise them on the humanitarian disaster looming,' said the

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Rights group says Zim in complex state of emergency

Tuesday, 19 August 2008 17:25
Rights group says Zim in complex state of emergency

JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe is in a "complex state of emergency" where the
government has declared war against its people while blocking critically
needed humanitarian support for the hungry and other marginalised groups, a
women's rights group said on Tuesday.

The Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) called on the regional Southern
African Development Community (SADC) and African Union (AU) to urge
President Robert Mugabe to stop political violence that the group said had
continued despite ongoing talks between Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF and the
opposition MDC parties.

"Zimbabwe is in a complex state of emergency where the government has
declared war on its people. We are being arrested, tortured and taken to
Chikurubi (prison) where there is no food and water," said WOZA coordinator
Jenni Williams, during the launch in Johannesburg of a report on harassment
of the group's members.

The report titled "Counting the Cost of Courage" details cases of
illegal arrest, abuse and torture that WOZA says were committed against its
members by the police and other state agents.

Williams, who was speaking ahead of an expected visit to Zimbabwe this
week by SADC chairman and South African President Thabo Mbeki, said: "SADC
and AU should pressure Mugabe to stop the political violence and disband
militia camps in all areas of the country."

Mbeki is expected in Harare possibly today to try one more time to
push Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to agree to share power after a
regional summit last weekend failed to bring the two rivals to agree to form
a government of national unity.

A power-sharing government is seen as the most viable way to end
Zimbabwe's long-running crisis that is marked by the world's highest
inflation of 11 million percent, severe shortages of food, jobs, foreign
currency and deepening poverty.

Williams urged African leaders to pressure Mugabe to allow
non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to resume delivery of humanitarian aid
to hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans facing hunger.

"The government should immediately lift the current ban on
organisations providing humanitarian assistance and allow a United Nation
team to address the humanitarian crisis and widespread hunger without
political interference," she said.

Mugabe's government last June banned all NGO field operations after
accusing relief agencies of using aid distribution as a pretext to carry out
political work for Tsvangirai and the MDC.

Zimbabwe, once a regional breadbasket, has grappled with severe food
shortages since 2000 when Mugabe launched his haphazard fast-track land
reform exercise that displaced established white commercial farmers and
replaced them with either incompetent or inadequately funded black farmers.

A shortage of seed and fertilizer hampered planting while erratic
rains for most of the 2007/2008 farming season has meant yields will be much
lower again this year and international relief agencies will have to step in
with food aid. - ZimOnline

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Mutambara's Interview with Geraldine Doogue

The Australian

Arthur Mutambara, leader of the breakaway faction of the Movement for
Democratic Change, on ABC Radio National's Saturday Extra:

WHO are you? How dare you undermine our intelligence? How dare you, you are
so racist to the extent that you can't guarantee us, give us the respect,
the vote of confidence that we can make our own decisions.

Geraldine Doogue: Well, let ...

Mutambara: You are collectively stupid ...

Doogue: Let me ...

Mutambara: ... collective foolishness. We won't allow Australia to judge our
agreement. It's none of your business.

Doogue: Let me bring up the issue of the ...

Mutambara: I haven't finished. Shame on you for expressing no confidence in
Morgan Tsvangirai. Shame on you for expressing no confidence in Mugabe.
Shame on you for expressing no confidence in Mutambara. We will not brook
that nonsense.

Doogue: Is it possible that you or Mr Tsvangirai could be walking into a
trap as Joshua Nkomo did in the '80s, where it looked like a power-sharing
agreement and in fact as you know ...

Mutambara: I have a question. Do you think I am stupid? When you ask that
question you think we are foolish and we are very offended that you think we
are that stupid. We are smarter than the Australians. We are smarter than
the Americans. We went to better schools than most of these leaders in
America, in Britain and in Australia. I am coming out of Oxford. None of
your prime ministers can challenge me intellectually. So how do you
patronise me and tell me that I'm going to be hoodwinked by Mugabe. reports:

FOLLOWING media reports that Professor Arthur Mutambara had agreed with
Mugabe that he becomes one of the deputy prime ministers, I wrote to
Professor Mutambara. I was shocked with the response that I got: "Stop all
communication to me please. why can't you find better things to do with your
life. foolish loser."

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'African women must rally for peace in Zimbabwe'


August 19, 2008, 15:45

The Pan African Parliament's President, Getrude Mongella, has challenged
African women to rally together for peace and stability in Zimbabwe. She was
speaking at the opening of the annual South African Women's Parliament.

Mongella says without the stability, whatever gains made in improving the
lives of women in Africa would always be set back by strife faced by women
in Zimbabwe.

She said it's time for women to play their part in the Zimbabwean crisis.
"You must put up a caucus to digest the Zimbabwe question, to create peace,
not to be pro or against, that is not our work but the work of the
Zimbabweans themselves."

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Bus Operators Charge Fares in Forex

The Herald (Harare)  Published by the government of Zimbabwe

19 August 2008
Posted to the web 19 August 2008


LONG-DISTANCE bus operators, particularly those plying the Harare-Bulawayo
route, have joined the foreign currency craze, with some demanding as much
as 120 rand per trip.

The transporters revealed yesterday that they were charging fares in foreign
currency or the Zimbabwe dollar equivalent at the parallel market. This has
made travelling a nightmare.

It is illegal to peg fares and prices in foreign currency without the
authority of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

A snap survey yesterday showed that the Harare-Bulawayo trip now costs
almost the same amount as a journey to South Africa.

The Bulawayo-Johannesburg trip, a distance of 800km, costs about R290. The
distance between Bulawayo and Harare is 440km.

When this reporter visited Renkini Long-Distance Bus Terminus yesterday,
most buses and commuter omnibuses that ply the Harare-Bulawayo route were
charging about R120, 110 pula or $12 trillion.

Touts and conductors at the terminus defended charging in foreign currency,
arguing that the Zimbabwe dollar was tumbling daily, if not hourly.

"Charging using the Zimbabwe dollar is not profitable," said a conductor who
only identified himself as George.

He said they accepted passengers who paid fares in foreign currency or the
Zimbabwe dollar equivalent.

"Tomorrow (today) we will be charging $15 trillion to get to Harare and the
fare might go up again any time soon," said George.

Many would-be travellers complained that the fares in foreign currency or
the Zimbabwe dollar equivalent on the parallel market were not affordable.

"The amount is just way beyond my reach. I cannot afford to travel to

"We are living in Zimbabwe but are expected to pay in foreign currency just
to get to Harare, a Zimbabwean city," bemoaned Mr Samuel Zaranyika.

He appealed to the relevant authorities to intervene as the unscrupulous bus
conductors and touts' demand for payment in foreign currency was
unreasonable and illegal.

"The touts are a menace because they are the ones that usually peg prices
for the trips so that they get some money out of it. I appeal to the
authorities to deal with these conductors and touts because they are the
ones who are fuelling price increases by charging us in foreign currency,"
he said.

In response, a prominent Harare-based bus operator, Mr James Chiyangwa,
attributed the resort to charging fares in foreign currency to the
ever-ballooning cost of maintaining buses.

He said service providers were charging in foreign currency.

"Spares are not readily available and those that have the spares charge us
in foreign currency. We are also buying fuel on the black market in United
States dollars," claimed Mr Chiyangwa.

A trip to Harare from Bulawayo by train in sleeper class costs about $329
(revalued), far much lower than the foreign currency amount charged by road

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Zimbabwe Businesses Reject Old Coins

HARARE, August 19, 2008 - Zimbabwean businesses are now refusing old
coins re-introduced into circulation by the Reserve bank of Zimbabwe early
this month.

A survey by Radio VOP indicated that shop-owners in the central
business district were only taking new coins. Kombi operators were also
refusing the old coins.

"We are not taking 20 cents, 50cents, $1 - but the new coins - because
the old ones are worthless to say the least," said a Nigerian shop-owner.

But central bank governor Gideon Gono, warned business people they
faced prosecution if they refused to accept coins.

"The old coins are legal tender and any business person found
violating the law by refusing the coins will be dealt with in accordance
with the laws of this country. These are the people who are profiteering
from speculation," Gono said. "All the culprits will be accounted for by the
monetary authorities," he said.

Zimbabweans now go around with bags full of coins to transact.

Gono re-introduced the old coins beginning this month among other
currency reforms after a German firm cancelled a deal to supply the country
with paper money.

Zimbabwe's money is fast eroded by hyper-inflation currently estimated
to be about 11 million percent, the highest in the world,  although
independent economic analysts say the figure is much higher.

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Zimbabwe Business Watch : Week 34

The situation in Zimbabwe has shifted from a crisis to an emergency as the
economy is collapsing around businesses which are being forced to accept
that if the rescue package does not come to our aid within the next few
weeks, they too will be destroyed.

The cash crisis, alleviated for just a few days with the introduction of the
new currency, has returned with a vengeance and a number of banks have run

Disparities in pricing, services and charges and the cost of goods versus
ordinary incomes abounds causing great confusion.

Electricity supply has been reduced due to power station breakdowns and last
week saw much of industry and commerce without power.

Government imposed restrictions on exports has had an adverse effect on
already embattled industry and sugar refineries have stopped production as
their profit generating exports have been stopped.

Government moves one crisis to the next wielding an even bigger stick
desperate to prop up political popularity almost at any cost. This runs
directly in the face of common sense and general business opinion.

The Zimbabwe dollar plunged over the last week and is trading as high as 1,3
trillion (Quadrillion) to 1 and inflation is being privately quoted at
figures even exceeding 40 million percent. Business is pinning its hopes on
a prompt resolution to the transitional government talks hoping that the
opposition will have its way which will ensure that the international rescue
package is secured.

This entry was written by Sokwanele on Tuesday, August 19th, 2008 at 11:20

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Tsvangirai mourns Mwanawasa

Tribune Staff/AFP | published: 19 August, 2008

Tsvangirai's full statement:

I have, with great sadness learnt of the passing-on of a good friend and
comrade, His Excellency Dr Levy Patric Mwanawasa SC.

As an individual and as a party, we have always hoped and prayed for his
speedy recovery, Sadly he has left us at this most trying time. Dr Levy
Pratric Mwanawasa SC was a champion of the democratisation of the SADC
region in particular and the African continent in general, as such his
passing-on is a sad day to the Zimbabwean people who at this stage are
yearning for a new beginning which can unquestionably be characterised as
democratic and a reflection of the will of the people.

At this most difficult time, on my behalf, on behalf of my party and the
people of Zimbabwe, we send our most sincere condolences to the family of Dr
Levy Patric Mwanawasa SC and the people of Zambia and we wish them God
speed. May his soul rest in peace.

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Zimfest - the Little Miracle in London

Every year about 5000 Zimbabweans and friends of Zimbabwe gather in a field
to listen to great music, soak up the culture and have fun.but it goes
deeper than that.

Every year Zimfest is welcomed with fervour and loyalty that verge on the
religious. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, with Zimbabwe
slipping further into hell, Zimfest is something solid and positive to hold
onto. People come each year to be reminded of how it feels to be Zimbabwean
... that they actually belong somewhere that they may one day go back to.
The second reason is the fantastic vibe of the festival itself. Every year,
it is a zone of total fun and goodwill typical of Zimbabweans themselves.

From 2003 onwards, Robert Mugabe in his desperate struggle to retain power,
stirred up racial hatred in Zimbabwe after twenty years of white and black
living and growing together. Zimfest is a reminder of those years. From the
members of WEZIMBABWE, the charity that puts the festival on, to the range
of music and entertainment available, Zimfest is self-consciously
multiracial and multicultural.

Another aspect of the festival that gets buy in from Zimbabweans, is that
fact that all the funds generated at Zimfest go towards helping people back
in Zimbabwe

Last year they were able to continue their flagship school fees sponsorship
programme which saw 3000 school children benefit in school fee support. They
have also supported a non-formal educational scheme in Harare which has been
helping children that have been excluded from the schooling as a direct
result of the failing economy and being orphaned.

WEZIMBABWE also help victims of the violence in the current situation where
intimidation and terror are rife. They have provided support for hundreds of
victims of the political violence who were either admitted to hospitals or
had had their houses burnt.

This year the legendary Oliver Mtukudzi headlines the festival, so support
looks to continue to increase and reach further afield in the Zimbabwean
community and with people who love Zimbabwe. There is also a range of other
brilliant musicians, from Siyaya who opened WOMAD this year to Mann Friday,
a great favourite of our readers.
Coordinator of the festival Phillip Chikwiramakomo said:

"When you take into account that 90 percent of the work done on Zimfest is
done by volunteers, it is easy to see why it is starting to be called
'Zimfest, The Miracle Festival."

For more:

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JAG open letter forum - No. 557 - Dated 19 August 2008


Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.
1. Weynand P Breytenbach

Dear JAG,

One way to make the granting of amnesty, to all those guilty of political
misrule, more acceptable, might be to give them 2 choices.

1). Return everything looted to the rightful owners in exchange for amnesty.

2). Keep everything looted and face prosecution in a court of law.

This way the culprits will not end up with butter on both sides of their

Wynand Breytenbach
2. Antoinette Dick

Dear JAG,

Watching the special on Putin and his deception and control of Russia (the
invasion of Georgia and other small countries around) in last night's Fox
T.V. programme, both my husband and I sat there remarking ... "just how
Mugabe is doing with Zimbabwe".  His masters taught him well when it came
to Marxism.

Hopefully MDC will be wise enough not to strike any deals or be forced in to
anything that will take them the same way as Nkomo went!

And watch out Israel ... Putin warned recently re his thoughts there too,
and we know what that will mean!!!  In the end, proving The Bible true as
far as the sceptics go!

Wise are they who sit up and notice what's going on and aren't swept in to
any deceptions about real intentions of those mentioned.

 Antoinette Dick
All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions of
the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice for

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'SADC not geared up to handle crisis'


      Hans Pienaar
    August 19 2008 at 10:07AM

Activists, unionists and others slammed the failure of the SADC summit
at the weekend to deal with worldwide demands to have the Mugabe regime's
restrictions on humanitarian agencies lifted.

In the final communique from the body there is no mention of the call
made in the days before the summit by United Nations officials, NGO forums
and the Zimbabwe opposition.

Zimbabwean Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche banned field work by the
NGOs during the campaign for the June 27 presidential run-off election.

He accused them of having provided campaign support for the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change during the March 29 elections, which the MDC

A communique issued on Sunday after a special meeting of the SADC
organ on politics, defence and security co-operation makes no mention of the
humanitarian crisis.

It calls on the parties to sign the outstanding agreements "as a
matter of urgency to restore political stability in Zimbabwe".

At a press briefing afterwards, President Thabo Mbeki said SADC
facilitation had been initiated about humanitarian concerns, but suggested
several times that addressing these would have to take a back seat to
concluding a deal.

"We need this inclusive government to drive this process of addressing
these challenges," he said.

Observers pointed out that the SADC's original appointment of Mbeki as
mediator came after the international uproar about the near-fatal assaults
on MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Elinor Sisulu, chairperson of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, said
the summit showed the SADC's "undemocratic governments were not geared to
handle" crises.

Zimbabwe was an "exaggerated symptom of the illnesses of regional
governments" in general.

The fault with the talks was that "everything has to be suspended",
she said.

Meanwhile, the violence continues, despite undertakings in the
memorandum of understanding underpinning the talks. The danger is that an
eventual deal will lack legitimacy if violations continue.

"It is mind-boggling. It is like putting a gun to somebody's head. It
is extraordinary that you put pressure (on the Mugabe regime) by removing
such pressure," Sisulu said in reference to Mbeki's appeasement of Mugabe,
which was going "far beyond Neville Chamberlain's" appeasement of German
dictator Adolf Hitler.

"Mbeki's handling of the process is one of the most painful things I
have experienced in my life," she said.

Women of Zimbabwe Arise was to issue a report on Tuesday detailing
abuse of women by the Mugabe government.

It concludes that "generally, women in Zimbabwe have experienced more
trauma after 1980 than pre-independence".

It says more than 50 percent of the women interviewed were at risk of
developing significant psychological disorders.

Trauma and the abuse of women would be highlighted, as well as
testimony from women who had recently spent weeks at the infamous Chikurubi
Female Prison, said a statement.

Nine members of Woza were held by police. Four were released only
after showing the police safe houses where the five others had been hiding.

People merely suspected of supporting the MDC are being targeted,
according to the statement.

This article was originally published on page 6 of The Star on August
19, 2008

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The bullying black Englishmen


    August 19 2008 at 02:11PM

By Heidi Holland

The three educated but unwise African men plotting Zimbabwe's
short-term future with arrogant disregard for the will of the people,
President Thabo Mbeki, his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe and Arthur
Mutambara, are more Western-oriented than any of them cares to admit.

The odd one out in the country's power-sharing negotiations, who
neither resembles a British gentleman nor aspires to such an identity, is
Morgan Tsvangirai, ironically the man they have sneeringly labelled a
Western pretender.

With his humble origins and poor school record, Tsvangirai lacks not
only the lofty Western educational qualifications that his three opponents
display in their wordy speeches, witticisms and articles, but their
sartorial style.

Bulging out of his cheap suits, Tsvangirai seems uncomfortable
alongside the three Savile Row dandies, who are said by some close to the
negotiations to despise the former trade unionist and principal Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader.

When he stormed out of talks in Harare last week saying he did not
understand the language they were using, observers wondered if Tsvangirai
was not speaking metaphorically but verifying a widespread rumour that
Mbeki, Mugabe and Mutambara, the leader of the smaller MDC faction, talk to
each other in French when they do not want Tsvangirai to tune in.

Of course, it is Tsvangirai's Western political support that makes him
a stooge to the other three. But it is also his lack of sophistication that
incurs the bitter ridicule of Zimbabwe's power brokers.

Some of the words used by negotiators to describe the MDC leader, who
is supported by 47 percent of the electorate, are not only offensive and
unworthy of repetition in a space such as this, but also a reminder of the
smug superiority that prevails among well-educated African leaders with
dictatorial tendencies. What Tsvangirai has had to endure during the recent
talks will have been little short of abuse.

Mugabe was in a similarly unnerving position three decades ago in
London during the Lancaster House talks that gave birth to Zimbabwe,
although he was treated condescendingly in a Tory onslaught of real Brits
rather than three scornful black Englishmen.

As the sole leader resisting Britain's plans for the independence of
its last and troublesome colony, Rhodesia, Mugabe was subjected to the same
bullying and socially humiliating treatment that Tsvangirai will undoubtedly
have suffered in closed sessions with the three African snobs about recent

Britain's foreign secretary, Peter Carrington, 6th Baron Carrington of
Bulcot Lodge, holder of the Military Cross and a junior minister under
Winston Churchill, lorded it over Mugabe in the hope that the radical black
politician with a mass following at home would weaken and give in to British
power negotiators.

What Mugabe had in common with Carrington was his sense of
superiority. The big difference, though, was in the British aristocrat's
effortless loftiness as opposed to Mugabe's version, which has been
constructed as a shield.

Carrington's manner is in the blood, a subtle form of intimidation
that leaves outsiders feeling wrong-footed, even inferior. He acts superior,
believes it and achieves it.

Mugabe's is a means of protection against the humiliation he feels
when dealing with those who habitually belittle or denigrate (ie the British
in general and their white southern African descendants in particular).

Political deals are often pulled off through sheer psychological
pressure. As surely as every trick in the book was used by Carrington to
bring Mugabe to heel in 1979, so Tsvangirai will have been subjected to
intense threats and promises from three alternately hostile and cajoling
power brokers.

Thirty years ago, the British foreign secretary Mugabe referred to as
"the good lord" was under strict orders from Margaret Thatcher to achieve a
political settlement at any price.

He did so by, among other underhand strategies, carefully fostering a
cordial relationship with Rhodesia's army commander, General Peter Walls,
and sharing the odd joke and suspiciously quiet moment with
terrorist-in-chief Josiah Tongogara, the Zanu military supremo who probably
had half an eye on the job Mugabe coveted in independent Zimbabwe.

Imagine the level of taunting pressure brought to bear on Tsvangirai
as tweedy, pipe-smoking Mbeki, in desperate need of a legacy-saving Zimbabwe
deal, and cricket-loving royalist Mugabe (ever the clever strategist) looked
down their noses at him while cosying up to his MDC rival, Oxford-educated
Mutambara (whose decision to side with former Zanu-PF politburo member Simba
Makoni rather than Tsvangirai during the March election proved decisive in
the inconclusive result).

The prestigious and supposedly powerful job of prime minister would
have been proffered between the two tantalisingly, one minute being
Tsvangirai's and then Mutambara's whenever the irresolute Tsvangirai tried
to bolster his side of the paltry partnership Mugabe was offering.

That many observers expected Tsvangirai to buckle under such torment
is not only a reflection of his record of inconstancy, but perhaps also a
sign that most of the individuals in the international media and diplomatic
community who monitor developments in Zimbabwe subconsciously find an
unsophisticated populist like Tsvangirai more difficult to understand and
relate to than the African elitists.

This is doubtless because politicians such as Mbeki, Mugabe and
Mutambara more closely resemble the majority of foreign journalists and
diplomats, educated Africans having modelled themselves on Western, not
African, values.

Tsvangirai, with neither a shield of superiority nor the easy
middle-class sociability to win friends and influence people at a personal
level in the international community, presents a lonely figure as we watch
the other three trying to stitch up a deal among themselves. What the
ordinary people of Zimbabwe desire seems very low on Mbeki's agenda.

Without the Tsvangirai-led MDC, however, any deal struck in Harare
will lack international credibility. It will be another false dawn, without
foreign funding for reconstruction of the country's shattered economy.

It will be reminiscent, too, of the Springbok captain who, when told
that the international sports boycott meant that nobody in the world would
play rugby against apartheid South Africa, responded defiantly: "If nobody
will play with us, we will play with ourselves."

Heidi Holland is the author of the book Dinner With Mugabe.

This article was originally published on page 11 of Cape Argus on
August 19, 2008

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